Space Saving Apartment Robots

My daughter last month moved into her 135 sq. ft. dorm room on 116 Street, with the same amenities as when it first opened in 1926. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her space options in New York City do not look any better for the next 10 years. According to Zillow, the challenge for most large cities is the demand of real estate relative to the growth of incomes. Earlier this year, New York City even changed its definition of apartments to include a micro-apartments of 500 sq. ft.

asmbld, construction robotics company, based here in New York City is wrestling with the question of how a 500 square foot apartment could accommodate multiple-use scenarios.  Their answer is a robotic reconfiguration:


Project Dom Indoors is their latest research to rethink human habitat itself.  According to their website, asmbld aims to go “beyond the automation of existing processes… (to) explore new types of future architectural robots, such as reconfiguration robots, maintenance robots and many others.”   The Dom Indoors system even illustrates how it could help businesses rapidly adapt to changing needs, from increasing the number of meeting rooms to private offices on demand:


The project still in the conceptual stage, but they have designed tiny robots that can assemble small modules into any shape, enabling users to customize the space on their phones in which robots build within minutes. According to the test case illustrated on their site, asmbld is capable of using its tiny Dom robots to raise portions of the floor to build new configurations with the skill of a Fraggle Rock doozer:

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 2.24.30 PM

The system could be integrated into almost any existing open space. At rest, it will look like a typical raised access floor.  Then robots use small modules to operate in the void under the floor. The Dom-bots orient themselves by using light sensors and markers on the surface. The robots can bring and place modular frame elements and surface tiles to any desired position under the floor. Structures are assembled layer by layer. Robots create each layer outline using identical modular elements. After a layer outline is assembled under the floor, lifting robots take over. Lifting robots (shown above) push the layer up and hold it until other robots secure new supports underneath it. The process is repeated until the structure is assembled – or reversed to disassemble an existing object. Users can design almost any 3D shape in this environment.

According to its founders, “it’s like Minecraft made real.” While I have yet to see an actual demonstration in a real sized space, the vision is definitely aligned to ease our crowded city future.

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